Friday, October 01, 2010

Disintegration: The Splintering of Black America

The Washington Post's Eugene Robinson is the one single person at the WaPo that I hold (the most from a larger group of troglodytes, I am sure) responsible for the destruction of the visual arts coverage in the Post, in his case in the Style section while he was editor of Style a few years ago. Robinson allowed the decimation and destruction of what was left of Style's gallery and visual arts coverage to take place and for that I hold him responsible.

Robinson did it; or at least he didn't stop them from doing it: arts coverage killer.

But he is also a pretty good book author who picks damned interesting topics for his books - always somewhat prejudiced by the poison, passion and spice that is the American obsession and cultural misunderstanding of race.

His Coal to Cream: A Black Man's Journey Beyond Color to an Affirmation of Race is one of the most interesting books that I've ever read on Latin American racism, if somewhat acutely flawed by his American viewpoint of race that often doesn't apply anywhere else but America.

One of his other books, Last Dance in Havana was also near and dear to my heart and quite interesting, if again curiously naive in attempting to speak for Afro-Cubans from an American perspective that was agonizingly patronizing.

Robinson's newest book, Disintegration: The Splintering of Black America , returns to Robinson's obsession with race (which is richly reflected in his opinion columns in the WaPo) and I am really looking forward to reading it.

It makes its debut in four days with an Amazon Bestsellers pre-release rank of #57,201 in books (today), so it looks like I am one of five people on the planet who will actually buy and read this book, so I will let you know what I think of it once I am finished.

From Publishers Weekly:

In this clear-eyed and compassionate study, Robinson (Coal to Cream), Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist for the Washington Post, marshals persuasive evidence that the African-American population has splintered into four distinct and increasingly disconnected entities: a small elite with enormous influence, a mainstream middle-class majority, a newly emergent group of recent immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean, and an abandoned minority "with less hope of escaping poverty than at any time since Reconstruction's end." Drawing on census records, polling data, sociological studies, and his own experiences growing up in a segregated South Carolina college town during the 1950s, Robinson explores 140 years of black history in America, focusing on how the civil rights movement, desegregation, and affirmative action contributed to the fragmentation. Of particular interest is the discussion of how immigrants from Africa, the "best-educated group coming to live in the United States," are changing what being black means. Robinson notes that despite the enormous strides African-Americans have made in the past 40 years, the problems of poor blacks remain more intractable than ever, though his solution--"a domestic Marshall Plan aimed at black America"--seems implausible in this era of cash-strapped state and local governments.
Buy the book here.

Fridge Burn

The Fridge was never going to be an easy fit for Barracks Row. The art gallery-cum-classroom-cum-performance space opened in an alley off of 8th Street SE in September 2009, and immediately caused minor, NIMBYish ripples in its the well-heeled Capitol Hill neighborhood. Over the last year the outre-minded space has mostly enjoyed a tentative peace with its neighbors.

But when the Fridge had to scale back its ambitions last month, kow-towing to neighbors registering noise complaints, it didn’t involve the usual suspects—no scrappy devotees of street art, no mind-scraping experimental musicians. It happened in August, when, with Congress in recess and the summer quickly bleeding days, the neighborhood can feel like a ghost town.

The culprits? Noisy new agers.
Read the rest of Erin Petty's article in the WCP here.

Head for Art

Just discovered this supercool, new DC-based art site: Head for Art. In it, the fair Aleid Ford has a "365-day project that started Jan 1. The premise is simple: every day this year I take one art work from DC’s National Gallery of Art and discuss it in an interesting and enlightening way."

The site rocks and is a refreshing new presence in the DMV's art scene. Check it out here.


To my good bud and DC uberartist Tim Tate, who will be having his first first museum solo exhibition at Virginia's Taubman Museum of Art in Roanoke, Virginia next May-Aug.

The show will focus primarily on video. It will be called "The Waking Dreams Of Magdelena Moliere."

Stay tuned...

Strauss Fellowships

Deadline: November 6, 2010

The Arts Council of Fairfax County announces the FY2011 Strauss Fellowships. These individual artist grants recognize professional working artists’ achievements and their demonstrated history of accomplishments; they promote artists’ continued pursuit of their creative work. Artists in all disciplines including visual arts, creative writing, theatre, dance performance and choreography, film and new media, music composition and performance are eligible to apply. Applicants must reside in Fairfax County.

Named for Bill Strauss (1947-2007), gifted writer, cofounder of the Capitol Steps and the Cappies, the Strauss Fellowships are an investment in the sustained growth and development of the arts in Fairfax County as well as a way to honor artists’ commitment to an artistic discipline, their professional activity in Fairfax County, and their contributions to the quality of life in Fairfax County. This is the fourth year the fellowships have been offered. Guidelines and application materials are available online at The application deadline is November 6, 2010.

The Strauss Fellowships are awarded through a competitive grant program where the recipients are determined by their work’s merit. No specific project needs to be carried out with the funds granted; Strauss Fellowships award outstanding achievement in work that has already been completed. This year Amy Lin, Foon Sham, Blake Stenning, and Ann Marie Williams all were awarded Visual Arts Fellowships.